Volunteer Policy

Smiling Man

How we want to involve and enable volunteers at Derby LINk (Community Action Derby)

What volunteering means to us

Volunteering is central to what we do as the leading support service for voluntary organisations in Derby.  We help other organisations become better volunteer managers so we want to do the best we can to support and value volunteers that work with us.

We believe that volunteering is a really important and exciting thing to do, and we want to make sure as many people as possible get the chance to do it.  Volunteering enables people to

  • develop skills and interests
  • be part of their community
  • meet new people and learn about other people's lives
  • change their lives for the better
  • develop confidence and a sense of personal fulfilment.

Diversity

We recruit volunteers with an equal opportunities approach so that people from all sections of the community have the chance to get involved.  We always explain the necessary skills and experience needed for a volunteering role and, regardless of your background, we'll consider you if you have the right skills.

We're interested in increasing the number of people volunteering, particularly people who sometimes find it difficult to get into volunteering or who face barriers.

These include

  • disabled people and people with sensory impairments
  • people from black and culturally diverse backgrounds who want to volunteer in predominantly white organisations
  • people who've had or have mental health problems
  • people who have learning disabilities
  • refugees and people seeking asylum
  • people who are Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Trans-Gender
  • people who have a criminal record.

How we make volunteering accessible - making the work place right for you

To ensure anyone can volunteer we are committed to make all reasonable adjustments to both the office and the way we work.  We can also explore any other ways we can make volunteering more accessible.

Making sure you're not out of pocket

We provide out of pocket travel expenses to all volunteers and encourage everyone to claim them, you are here to volunteer your time, not your money.  We can give you cash or a cheque to cover the cost.  We can give you the money upfront or pay you back on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  You need to give us travel tickets and receipts for the amount you claim for.  We don't need petrol receipts because we pay a mileage rate - we pay 15p a mile towards the cost of your bike, 38p a mile towards the cost of your car and 25p a mile towards the cost of your motorbike.

Getting here and travelling

To save the environment we encourage everyone who can, to walk, cycle or use the bus, to get to us as we're very near the centre of town.  We will pay the cost of your bus fare.  If you need to use a car or motorbike, we pay a mileage rate.  If your personal circumstances mean that it will cost you more to get to the Volunteer Centre then this should be discussed with your supervisor who will agree the amount we can pay.  You can lock your bike up here, or park close by, and there is parking outside the office for drivers with disabilities.

You need to tell your motor insurance company if you're using your car to get to and from your place of volunteering and if you're using your car as part of your volunteering.  This should not affect the cost of your insurance - if it does please speak to us.

Community Action is a registered charity and must act at all times in the best interests of the charity and must keep volunteers expenses to an amount that is reasonable and proportionate in order to protect charitable funds.

With this in mind, below gives some guidance about the maximum amount which Community Action Derby will reimburse if volunteers are working for more than 4 hours continuously.

Lunch 

  • £4 per head for meal.

Dinner

  • £8 per head if working after 6pm at night and for a period of 4 hours or more.

All claims for subsistence must be accompanied by a receipt and will only be paid on the production of a receipt.  The actual cost incurred will then be reimbursed up to the maximum as stated above.

Helping carers and parents

We can normally be quite flexible about when you come in to volunteer, as long as staffs are around to support you.  This means we can work round any caring responsibilities, doctor's appointments, or other commitments that you have.  We do not want to stop full time parents, house people or carers from volunteering with us, so if you have any of these responsibilities you need to talk to us about how they affect you and what your needs are.

Communicating

We do not have any BSL users working in our team at the moment.  Again, we would really like to speak to you and see how we can get an arrangement that works for you if this is something you need.

We do not have a facility for using Braille but we can provide large print or audio information.  We would really like to talk to you about how we can meet your needs.

If you claim benefits

You can still volunteer with us if you claim benefits.  There are different arrangements depending which benefits you're on but the important thing is that you tell your advisor.  You must also tell them you have received expenses, but that these only cover the money you spend.

How we involve volunteers

We want to involve volunteers in what we do so they can contribute

  • ideas and innovations
  • skills and expertise
  • passion and enthusiasm
  • a different and unique perspective.

We always try to

  • involve volunteers in tasks they find interesting and stimulating
  • offer opportunities that are flexible, making sure they match your interests and skills as well as helping us deliver the work our customers want from us.

Recruiting volunteers

Take a look at our 'Volunteers Recruitment Policy - how we do it' document for details.

Getting started

You will be given a full introduction to your volunteering.  As part of this we will agree a task description and volunteer agreement with you.  This way we both know what you are going to be doing and what we expect from each other.  You will also go through an induction with us so that you are familiar with how we do things and what is expected.

This will give you an appreciation and value of the work that you will be doing and how it directly and indirectly affects Community Action Derby.  You will get a volunteers handbook so you can keep all the information we give you and refer to it when you need to.

Equal opportunities are very important to us.  You will look at the guide for volunteers as part of your introduction.  This will explain exactly what it is all about.

Helping you stay involved

We want to offer support that suits you.  You will have a supervisor who you can talk to about your volunteering.  They will be available for one to one chats if you want them and we will offer a chance for volunteers to come together as a group to support each other.

In your first three months with us we will meet with you one-to-one at least once every four weeks to check how it is all going.  After three months we will sit and review your volunteer task description.  We will then meet one-to-one for support and supervision sessions every 12 weeks thereafter.

To make sure we have a good relationship we will

  • provide a good quality experience that is accessible
  • be clear about what our expectations are and what support we can offer
  • make sure we listen and spend time with you so you can learn the role and feel supported
  • tell you if we have any problems with what you are doing, not doing, or how you're behaving
  • give you a chance to tell us what you think
  • tell you when there are changes to what we need you to be involved in
  • provide an introduction to the role and help you carry on learning whilst you are with us.

To make sure we have a good relationship you will need to tell us if

  • you're not going to make it in for your volunteering
  • you want to change the times and days or number of hours you're doing
  • you find the tasks you're doing don't suit you and you want to change
  • you feel things are not working out for you - you need to tell us why too
  • you think we're treating you unfairly or not being clear about our expectations
  • you experience any discrimination or harassment from any staff, volunteers or customers.

Dealing with problems

We hope there will not be any but just in case we have some guidance on what will happen - see our Dealing with Problems Guide.

Keeping you and the people we work with safe

We want to make sure you and those we work with are protected from harm and that we do what we can to minimise the chances of people getting hurt.  We do this by

  • having a health and safety policy and providing all staff and volunteers with this
  • doing risk assessments for the organisation every year as well as doing them for individuals when we recruit people and when people have particular needs, like when they're pregnant
  • having a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and guidance for volunteers on this
  • having guidance on personal safety for volunteers and staff
  • keeping good open relationships between volunteers and their support workers so any problems can be discussed and resolved.

See the Community Action policy on protection of young people and vulnerable adults for more information.

Helping you learn and get the most out of your volunteering

In your one to one you will talk about any learning you need.  In the first few weeks there may be lots to learn, but learning is ongoing and we want to support you throughout your time here.

When we can, we will provide opportunities for you to go on training courses and events that you are interested in, and that are relevant to your volunteering role.

We will also be able to offer job-shadowing, tips on getting jobs in the sector, and useful contacts if this is something you are interested in.

Thank you!

We really value and appreciate our volunteers and thank you for giving your time.  By supporting us you help thousands of people in the City get a better quality of life.  We like to thank you for what you do for us, in a way that means something to you.  For example, we can offer references and certificates if you would like them.

We encourage everyone to involve volunteers in social events.  We have a Christmas Do and occasional lunches and other socials - as a volunteer you will be encouraged to be involved.

Ending our relationship

Whenever someone leaves, for whatever reason, we like to meet with them and get some feedback about their time here.  You'll be offered a chance to do this in an Exit Interview.  Either your supervisor or another member of staff will do this with you.  The Exit Interview gives both Derby LINk and volunteers an opportunity to assess your volunteering experience here.  It also gives an opportunity to focus on specific pieces of work completed and achievements made.

Not so happy endings

If we have asked you to leave or if you feel you do not like it here and decide to leave, we still want to be fair.  If appropriate we will provide a reference if you want one, and we will help you find some other volunteering that suits you better if that is what you want to do.  For more information see our Dealing with Problems guide.

Happy endings

We will happily provide a reference for you so that you have a record of the things you did for us, and the skills and experience you got out of it.

We will help you find some more volunteering if you want to carry on but want to do something different, or need something that is at a different time.

We will definitely want to say thank you and good luck - your supervisor will be the one who makes sure you get a good send off in a way that suits you.

This policy will be due for annual review on 05/07/2009